Set in a glitzy London hotel in 1940, ITV’s new period drama has all the scandals of a British wartime Gossip Girl under the backdrop of an Agatha Christie novel.
Written and created by Charlotte Jones, The Halcyon tells the stories of characters from all walks of life and social class; shows how the hotel intertwines their lives together; and describes the effect that the war has on each of them individually.
In typical ITV form, the beautiful set and costumes on this show will make you wish you had been born 60 years earlier – until the wail of sirens brings you back to the harsh reality of their situation. One of the first characters introduced is Emma Garland, the daughter of the hotel’s manager, played by Hermione Corfield: and very much the typical sweet English rose. She is instantly extremely likeable when she accidentally-on-purpose spills a drink on the bratty Charity Lambert (Charity Wakefield) in response to an ant-semitic comment. Emma’s slightly unexpected friendship with carefree Betsey (Kara Tointon) is another highlight of the show, especially in the way that loveable Tointon portrays a character who could be slightly unlikeable.
Each of the characters in this show sound as though they have some dark secret, and all love to drop hints to one another that they are capable of destroying their reputation. Alex Jennings’ character Lord Hamilton, the owner of the hotel, has more than his fair share of secrets. Perhaps most prominent are his multiple affairs, about which every staff member is in the know, as they are responsible for getting rid of any evidence before a stern Lady Hamilton (Olivia Hamilton) arrives. Hamilton gives an excellent performance throughout the show, making the viewer feel her resentment and disgust towards her husband.
Some of the other acting does at times feel very staged and unnatural. However, that is partly due to the script being slightly too melodramatic, with many of the lines sounding awkward. Overall, however, this is definitely another must-watch for anyone who loves a period drama.
Image : Kieran Lynam @ Flickr